Bryce Edwards Analysis: Will Shane Jones be NZ First’s Trump card?
[caption id="attachment_13635" align="alignright" width="150"] Dr Bryce Edwards.[/caption] There is more than a hint of Donald Trump in Shane Jones’ political return. So, could he really fan the flames of NZ First’s populist resurgence in this year’s general election?
Shane Jones wants to “Put New Zealand First Again”. That was the Trump-esque slogan on the baseball cap that he wore to announce he was standing for Winston Peters’ populist party. There is no doubt that New Zealand First is on a roll at the moment, and they are clearly hoping to capitalise on the revival of populism and anti-Establishment feeling throughout the world.
Could Shane Jones make himself great again as New Zealand’s Trump?
[caption id="attachment_14813" align="alignleft" width="220"] Hon. Shane Jones – New Zealand First candidate for Whangarei.[/caption] The notion of New Zealand First benefiting from the changing ideological winds being felt around the world at the moment is picked up on by Toby Manhire: “NZ First has had heaven-sent political weather in 2017. Electoral tumult in Europe and America illustrate that something-in-the air that Jones was singing about today – and for anyone not keeping up, Jones layered it on by sporting a cap wearing ‘New Zealand First Again’.” – see: Shane Jones joins Winston Peters and NZ First: genius or jeopardy?
Jones referred to the changing global atmosphere in his announcement speech on Friday: “I was coming here this morning and a mate of mine put on a song, ‘There’s Something in the Air’. And you know as well as I do, there’s something in the air. It’s been sensed by voters in America. It’s been sensed by voters in Australia. Voters in the EU. Voters all around the world.”
Manhire suggests New Zealand First is set to rise further: “The latest RNZ poll of polls puts New Zealand First at 9.4%; in May 2014 it was 5.1%, which grew into an election result of 8.7%. In the three months to come, the barnstorming Peters-Jones double-act is designed to lift the party’s vote to unscaled heights, beyond even the 1996 record of 13.5% – leaving the Green Party in their wake. Closing in, even, on the Labour Party.”
Jones has some characteristics in common with Trump which is why I said on Friday: “Shane Jones is quite a campaigner, he’s bombastic, he’s eccentric, he’s got this ability I think to be New Zealand’s Trump” – see TVNZ’s NZ First’s Shane Jones has ‘ability to be New Zealand’s Donald Trump’ – political commentator.
In contrast to this, the NBR’s Rob Hosking writes today that, although Jones is making a pitch to be New Zealand’s Trump, “that anti-establishment pitch is perhaps the central oddity about the whole thing. Mr Jones is the ultimate political insider. He has just completed a role in a plum diplomatic posting, one at the gift of the National government. What’s more, his return to politics has been a matter of widespread political insider gossip for a couple of years now” – see: Shane Jones: How good a fit is he with NZ First, really? (paywalled).
Hosking suggests that media-based commentary about Jones actually goes against the grain of the anti-Establishment mood: “If there is any New Zealand edition of the recent anti-establishment mood in Western democracies, it seems to be at least as much aimed at the news media and the insider approach to political commentary as it is at the politicians themselves. Voters in the US and UK have recently blown loud electoral raspberries when they have been repeatedly told who is and is not an attractive candidate by political commentators. It’s a constant theme of the commentary around Mr Jones that he has widespread popular appeal. This may turn out to be true. But as yet there is no evidence of it.”
Jones’ anti-liberal appeal to the provinces
Although Jones comes from a Labour Party background, his uneasiness with Labour’s more socially liberal elements has been well canvassed in the past. According to Richard Harman, Jones “retains his discomfiture with the current Labour leadership and politically correct wing of the party and remains close to MPs like David Parker, Clayton Cosgrove and Stuart Nash, all of whom oppose identity politics” – see: Shane Jones’ candidacy already creating controversy in NZ First.
Harman says Jones is a good fit with NZ First: “He is a social conservative; he wants to see the Government play an activist role in the economy, he has argued against current immigration levels, and he is concerned about the way China has been able to make inroads in the South Pacific fishing zones.”
Similar to Trump, Jones will position himself and his party as the defender of those hurt by globalisation, and other economic issues, and will combine this with a culturally conservative message on foreign affairs, immigration and social issues.
New Zealand First’s appeal on such matters could hurt Labour badly, according to Audrey Young: “It is one of several factors likely to keep the party on its upward trajectory, mainly at the expense of Labour. The former Labour MP will help Peters peel off Labour leaners for whom personality is more important in leadership than anything else and who just can’t adjust to Andrew Little. Jones will also help peel off Labour-leaning blokes who think the party is too ‘politically correct’ – which is really code for too much control by feminists and gays” – see: Shane Jones is an important part of Winston Peters’ plan to regain power.
Young also draws parallels between New Zealand First and Trump: “Peters’ supporters have a similar attitude to Trump’s. What matters more is the way he campaigns. He paints an image of a glorious bygone era that has fallen victim to the wicked ways of Government, convinces voters they are victims and that he is their salvation, as he is doing in his campaign in the provinces, many of which are thriving. There are hard-luck stories everywhere, even in the cities.”
This socially conservative but economically interventionist stance was apparent in Jones’ interview on The Nation in the weekend – see Lisa Owen and Matthew Hutching’s It’ll be a tough election, ‘but I’m a tough character’ – Shane Jones.
According to this report, Jones “says NZ First will win Whangarei voters’ favour by dealing with issues of jobs and inequality, but unlike any other party, Mr Jones says they’ll take on ‘narco criminality” and the menace of gangs’.” See also Mihi Forbes’ interview on The Hui: ‘Get up off your asses and take care of yourselves’ – Shane Jones.
Blogger Martyn Bradbury says it is actually the National Party that will be vulnerable to losing voters to Peters and Jones, arguing the provincial voters who are alienated from “cultural elitism” are currently with the National Party, not Labour – see: Why the rise of Shane Jones hurts National not Labour.
Bradbury reckons that the provincial-urban cleavage is increasing in politics: “The rupture between the provinces and Auckland isn’t just economic, it’s cultural. Look at the careful wording Jones has used to date. Mentioning politically correct and talking openly about speaking to issues that make people feel uncomfortable is the full on cultural confrontation that the provinces are demanding.”
Here’s Bradbury’s electoral forecast: “I think what we are seeing is a new provincial party in the form of NZ First and a Labour Party that effectively becomes an Urban City Party. A change of Government is now a real possibility. I think NZ First will leap frog to the 3rd largest party at the downfall of National and the most likely outcome will be a Labour-NZ First minority Government with Green Party supply and confidence for Cabinet Positions. Shane Jones is NZs truest Donald Trump and Muddle Nu Zilind will lap the Jonesy up like a prodigal son returned from making it big in Sydney. Low horizons on a flat earth. Stuart Nash will be weeping into his pillow. Winston Peters could well be the next Prime Minister.”
Some will see Shane Jones’ anti-politically correct agenda as being regressive and homophobic. But according to Phil Quin, who knows Jones, this isn’t the case – see his blog post, Let’s not weaponise homophobia against allies.
Quin’s argument is worth quoting at length: “In all my interactions with Shane, I’ve seen no evidence of sexism, but, as a man, I’ll leave the feminist critique to women. On his attitudes towards LGBT people, however, I feel somewhat qualified to comment. I’ve known Shane for a while. We’re mates. I know his amazing wife, Dot, and was privileged to meet many members of his whanau. Shane Jones is more comfortable in the company of gay men than at least two-thirds of New Zealand men of his generation and background. He is open and relaxed with it comes to discussing issues affecting gay and lesbian New Zealanders. He is no less baffled than me by persistent efforts to deprive people like me of rights otherwise available to New Zealanders. During our conversations, he may have used words than wouldn’t make the cut in Acceptable Speech canon so eagerly monitored by New Zealand’s Twitter tone police, but I can’t recall it.”
Can Shane Jones help make New Zealand First great again?
Audrey Young also believes New Zealand First’s fortunes are likely to continue to rise with Shane Jones: “Jones will help to boost support for New Zealand First in the regions and among Maori. He is widely admired in Maoridom for his command of te reo and is considered one of its best orators. He has a microscopic knowledge of Northland tribal history and families. Unlike Peters he was raised in Northland on a dairy farm. New Zealand First is on a roll. In its heyday, 1996, the party gained 13.35 per cent and 17 MPs. It is probably past that point already with just under three months to go to the election” – see: Shane Jones is an important part of Winston Peters’ plan to regain power.
Vernon Small also looks at where the party could draw more votes: “He also offers pulling power for the provinces in general – one of Peters’ main and overt targets this election – as well as appeal to some of the blue collar and Maori urban vote that Labour is still struggling to win back” – see: Jones for Whangarei is about more than winning a seat.
Of course Jones also comes with baggage: “But with women – especially after his red face from the fall out over accessing blue movies as a minister – and in particularly young ones? Ah not so much… However, not appealing more broadly to women is probably the biggest sea anchor slowing NZ First’s push towards a very strong mid-teens result on September 23 – and on that score Jones adds little.”
Newstalk ZB’s Felix Marwick is also less sure Jones will be a big advantage for his new party: “But it has to be said that Shane Jones, while gregarious and a good communicator, is possibly one of the more flawed politicians Parliament has seen in recent history. His record in the nine years he was with Labour was certainly chequered. He entered in controversy, accused of double dipping by serving as an MP while still acting for the Waitangi Fisheries Commission. And things didn’t exactly improve from there. Add into the mix his nickname as Minister for Porn over his misuse of a ministerial credit card, and his approval of citizenship for now convicted money launderer Bill Liu, and you can see Mr Jones has had more than his fair share of bad news and scandal. These are all things his political opponents will use against him” – see: Shane Jones set to return to politics.
For the ultimate discussion of the pros and cons of Jones standing for New Zealand First, see Heather du Plessis-Allan’s Peters and his Mini-Me. She believes Jones’ previous controversies won’t really be a problem, especially because rival parties will be reluctant to politicise these issues out of fear of alienating a potential post-election coalition partner.
But more importantly, in the longer term, she argues Jones doesn’t necessarily have what it takes, especially if he wishes to be Peters’ successor: “What the party’s supporters like about Peters is his old-world charm. He has the ability to make outright populism more palatable through decorum. Jones has the populism part down pat. He has no decorum at all. He’s a shabby dresser, is in my view prone to bouts of arrogance and there’s the porn thing. Party members are already running an active #neverjones Facebook page, dedicated to opposing his candidacy. What’s more, Jones has proven hard to manage. He defied orders in Labour. Peters demands discipline. He’ll expect to keep telling his lieutenants what to do. Will Jones obey?”
Of course, one way Shane Jones could make New Zealand First even greater would be to win the electorate of Whangarei off National’s Shane Reti. Most commentators suggest there’s little chance of that happening, with Reti’s 13,000 majority making an upset unlikely. But Patrick Gower is willing to go out on a limb with his 12 reasons why Shane Jones can win Whangarei.
Finally, back in 2013 before his departure from the Labour Party, Jones was the subject of one of Steve Braunias’ best secret diaries – see: The Secret Diary of Shane Jones.
All items are contained in the attached PDF. Below are the links to the items online.
Shane Jones to stand for NZ First
Audrey Young (Herald): Shane Jones is an important part of Winston Peters’ plan to regain power
Vernon Small (Stuff): Jones for Whangarei is about more than winning a seat
Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Shane Jones – a prophetic jester with an eye on the throne. But which one?
David Fisher (Herald): Election year mad scheme unveiled in Whangarei
Lisa Owen and Matthew Hutching (Newshub): It’ll be a tough election, ‘but I’m a tough character’ – Shane Jones
Toby Manhire (Spinoff): Shane Jones joins Winston Peters and NZ First: genius or jeopardy?
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Herald): Peters and his Mini-Me
Claire Trevett (Herald): Act leader David Seymour: NZ First candidate Shane Jones a ‘showboater’, threat to country
Rob Hosking (NBR): Shane Jones: How good a fit is he with NZ First, really? (paywalled)
Rob Hosking (NBR): And then … along comes Jones (paywalled)
Jason Walls (NBR): Winston: No change in NZ First’s deputy leadership before election (paywalled)
Anton Skipworth (Daily Blog): A NZ First Vice Chair slams Shane Jones
Greg Presland (Standard): He’s baaaack
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Why the rise of Shane Jones hurts National not Labour
Pete George (Your NZ): The Nation – Shane Jones
Herald on Sunday editorial: The election campaign on social media will count
Bryce Edwards (Herald): LOL! Politicians ‘keeping it real’ on social media
Charlie Gates (Stuff): Socks, pies and pizza: How to turn the Prime Minister into an everyman
Alice Snedden (Stuff): Keep up the good work, Bill English, Labour thanks you
Andrew Gunn (Stuff): Bill English’s refresher in media training
Henry Cooke (Stuff): TOP prospect: Can Gareth Morgan crack 5 per cent?
Steve Maharey (NBR): Why the ‘missing million’ is missing (paywalled)
Steve Braunias (Herald): The great political ping-pong tournament: Through David Seymour like a dose of Epsom salts
Richard Harman (Politik): Key figure in Barclay affair undecided whether to stand for Clutha-Southland
Claire Trevett (Herald): National re-opens selections for Clutha-Southland seat
Pete George (Your NZ): Unions using interns
Pete George (Your NZ): Labour interns – follow the money rumours
Paul Little (Herald): Labour Party not following principles
Gordon Campbell (Werewolf): Labour’s policy resurgence, and Alex Chilton
Philip Burdon (Stuff): Winston Peters prefers National policy but Labour politicians. Which way will he swing?
Yvonne Tahana (TVNZ): ‘All steam and no hangi’ rival says as Maori Party and One Pacific strike election deal
Mike Williams (Hawke’s Bay Today): Election too crucial to let superficial sideshows distract
Stuff: Below the Beltway
Will Harvie (Stuff): The Veteran: Ruth Dyson stands again for the Left
Newstalk ZB: Clark “interested, but not engaged” with NZ politics
Pete George (Your NZ): Green leadership: Arthur Shaw or Martha Turei
Dave Kennedy (Local Bodies): National, dead party walking…
Peter Thiel citizenship
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On Peter Thiel’s bad attitude problem
Herald Editorial: Thiel case shows need for transparency
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Peter Dunne wouldn’t have approved Peter Thiel’s citizenship
Steve Braunias (Herald): Secret Diary of Peter Thiel
Philip Matthews (Press Editorial): Thanks to Jamie Oliver, the time has come for a sugar tax
John Roughan (Herald): Sugar tax would poison our very good system
Michael Hayward and Adele Redmond (Stuff): Christchurch’s cancer treatment accommodation at capacity
Helen Castles (TVNZ): ‘We don’t want our young people dying’ – Northland tackles suicide head-on with target rate of zero
Shane Cowlishaw (Newsroom): Government knew of DHB blunder before Budget
Cate Broughton (Stuff): Patients, workers meet to make health a key election issue
Aaron Leaman (Stuff): Australia’s doctor training a fix for NZ’s rural health woes
Alison Mau (Stuff): Caught up in an ugly bar brawl: ‘It’s time to address NZ’s alcohol carnage’
NZ Herald editorial: Public money should be a last resort for the Cup defenders
Dave Armstrong (Stuff): Full credit for the Cup win, and other hackneyed cliches
Nicholas Jones (Herald): ‘We are not holding out an open chequebook’
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): America’s Cup glory, but at what price?
Duncan Garner (Stuff): My change of tack: Sink public cash into Team NZ’s Cup defence
Rachel Smalley (Newstalk ZB): What defines a New Zealander? Are we too obsessed with sport?
Emile Donovan (RNZ): Call to kick ‘Pākehā narrative’ in NZ rugby
Richard Swainson (Stuff): America’s Cup win doesn’t warm the hearts of everyone
Lizzie Marvelly (Herald): Give our women a sporting chance
Malcolm Hopwood (Stuff): America’s Cup is all of New Zealand’s cup – not just Auckland’s
Mike O’Donnell (Stuff): Sky TV, rugby, beer and Martin van Beynen
Jeremy Hanson (Noted): Transforming Auckland for the America’s Cup
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Green Party apologise for anti-immigration pandering
Isaac Davison (Herald): Green Party apologises for pandering to anti-immigration, drops immigration policy
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Green Party self-flagellation for identity politics & the truth about Immigration post election
Chris Morris (ODT): Stance on immigration ‘more conservative’
Lydia Anderson (RNZ): Politicians warned they risk spreading ignorance on immigration
Natalie Akoorie (Herald): Leslie Smith is battling immigration officials to stay in New Zealand
Michael Reddell (Croaking Cassandra): Who has been getting residence visas?
Muriel Newman (NZCPR): Immigration Matters
Jonathan Guildford (Stuff): Youth Custody Index aims to break cycle of youth incarceration
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Waatea News Column – Rethinking Maori Prisons
Henry Cooke (Stuff): Prison guards to carry pepper spray – Corrections Minister Louise Upston
Pattrick Smellie (Stuff): Consumer watchdog to get more investigative teeth
Bryan Gould: The Price We Pay for Tax Cuts
Shannon Haunui-Thompson (RNZ): Māori economy now worth $50bn – report
Tim McCready (NZINC): Maori Economy: Becoming a significant economic powerhouse
Jamie Morton (Herald): Campaign seeks to swamp MP with bottles
Ryan Evans (Taranaki Daily News) Editorial: Scarcity is the new reality for water resources
Anna Connell (Newsroom): Answers to questions nobody is asking
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Trade unions is Labour Party’s biggest problem
Martyn Bradbury (Daily Blog): Boss backlash highlights difficulties for Labour’s watered down Worker’s Rights Agenda
Willie Jackson (Daily Blog): Labour strengthens worker rights and put’s $30 a week into pay-packets of poorest workers
Rodney Hide (Herald): Beware glass-half-full type
NZ Parliament and gender issues
Michelle Duff (Stuff): Torn in two: Former Green MP Holly Walker discusses trading Parliament for motherhood
Michelle Duff (Stuff): Why I couldn’t care less if women breastfeed in Parliament
Jeremy Elwood & Michele A’Court (Stuff): Tidying up our House of Representatives
Chris Keall (NBR): Should NZ’s Parliament follow the UK and abandon ties?
Ten years of KiwiSaver
Tamsyn Parker (Herald): Sir Michael Cullen: Make KiwiSaver compulsory
Anusha Bradley (RNZ): KiwiSaver 10 years on: time to make it compulsory?
Richard Meadows (Stuff): Budget Buster: KiwiSaver’s 10th birthday is hardly worth celebrating
Liam Dann (Herald): KiwiSaver not the market medicine many hoped
Robin Martin (RNZ): Bill to create Māori wards voted down
Jonathon Howe (Manawatu Standard): Lack of diversity on the Palmerston North City Council should be reviewed
Dominion Post Editorial: Begging and free speech
Ian Shirley (Spinoff): National’s ‘super city’ isn’t working, but not for the reasons National might think
Sophie Boot (BusinessDesk): Government takes control of earthquake-prone building decisions from local councils
Angela Quigan and John Hartevelt (Stuff): What would happen if New Zealand legalised cannabis?
John Edens (Stuff): What’s the difference between decriminalising and legalising cannabis?
Craig Hoyle (Stuff): Dying Kiwis become criminals as they turn to medicinal cannabis
Laura Baker (Stuff): Legalised cannabis: How free access could impact vulnerable Kiwis
Russell Brown (Public Address): Know Your Stuff: getting real about drug-checking
Tommy Livingston (Stuff): Kiwi soldiers were high on prescription drugs during active mission in Fiji
Jennifer Eder (The Marlborough Express): New Zealand Defence Force rules out national investigation into missing weapon parts
Mihingarangi Forbes (RNZ): Māori TV expected to pull ‘Jonah from Tonga’ from screens
John Drinnan (ZagZigger): Red Faces Over Blackface at Maori TV
Susan Strongman (RNZ): Animal welfare and the law
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): US Ambassador Scott Brown has plenty to say about his boss
Isaac Davison (Herald): Labour says it will support a trade deal with Pacific Alliance
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Government can’t please everyone on copyright reform, ministers warn
Martin van Beynen (Stuff): Foreign buyers eye ‘magnificent’ 40,000 hectare South Island station
Reading the Maps: Tyranny in a democracy
Hamish McNicol (Stuff): Construction industry wants highlight its worth to the Government
Amanda Cropp (Stuff): Auckland bed tax battle highlights search for tourism funding